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Border effects within the NAFTA countries

  • John H. Rogers
  • Hayden P. Smith

Using consumer price indexes from cities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, we estimate the "border effect" on U.S.-Mexican relative prices and find that it is nearly an order of magnitude larger than for U.S.-Canadian prices. However, during a very stable sub-period in Mexico (May 1988 to November 1994), the "width" of the U.S.-Mexican border falls dramatically and becomes approximately equal to the U.S.-Canadian border. We then show that when consideration is limited to cities lying geographically very close to the U.S.-Mexican border--San Diego, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Tijuana, Mexicali, Juarez, and Matamoros--the border width falls compared to that estimated with the full sample of U.S. and Mexican cities, but falls only very slightly. We also present evidence that the border effect in U.S.-Mexican prices is not primarily due to the border effect in U.S.-Mexican wages. Finally, using the prices of 276 highly dis-aggregated goods and services, we estimate the variability of relative prices of different items within Mexican cities. This measure of relative price variability declines during the stable peso sub-period, but by less than the decline in nominal and real (i.e., CPI-based) exchange rate variability. Our results are strong evidence of a "nominal border effect" in relative prices within NAFTA, but also indicate that real side influences are important.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 698.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:698
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  1. Charles Engel, 1992. "Real Exchange Rates and Relative Prices: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 4231, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 1999. "Deviations from Purchasing Power Parity:Causes and Welfare Costs," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 0038, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  3. Enrique G. Mendoza, 2000. "On the Instability of Variance Decompositions of the Real Exchange Rate across Exchange-Rate-Regimes: Evidence from Mexico and the United States," NBER Working Papers 7768, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 2000. "Violating the Law of One Price: Should We Make a Federal Case Out of It?," Discussion Papers in Economics at the University of Washington 0027, Department of Economics at the University of Washington.
  5. Domberger, Simon, 1987. "Relative Price Variability and Inflation: A Disaggregated Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(3), pages 547-66, June.
  6. Lach, Saul & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1992. "The Behavior of Prices and Inflation: An Empirical Analysis of Disaggregated Price Data," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(2), pages 349-89, April.
  7. Charles Engel & John H. Rogers, 1994. "How Wide is the Border?," NBER Working Papers 4829, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Debelle, Guy & Lamont, Owen, 1997. "Relative Price Variability and Inflation: Evidence from U.S. Cities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 132-52, February.
  9. Cecchetti, Stephen G, 1985. "Staggered Contracts and the Frequency of Price Adjustment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 100(5), pages 935-59, Supp..
  10. Stephen Cecchetti & Nelson C. Mark & Robert Sonora, 1998. "Price Level Convergence Among United States Cities: Lessons for the European Central Bank," Working Papers 32, Oesterreichische Nationalbank (Austrian Central Bank).
  11. Michael B. Devereux & Charles Engel, 1998. "Fixed vs. Floating Exchange Rates: How Price Setting Affects the Optimal Choice of Exchange-Rate Regime," NBER Working Papers 6867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Gordon H. Hanson & Antonio Spilimbergo, 1996. "Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages: Evidence from Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border," Research Department Publications 4036, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  13. Raymond Robertson, 2000. "Wage Shocks and North American Labor-Market Integration," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 742-764, September.
  14. John F. Helliwell, 1996. "Do National Borders Matter for Quebec's Trade?," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 29(3), pages 507-22, August.
  15. Parks, Richard W, 1978. "Inflation and Relative Price Variability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(1), pages 79-95, February.
  16. Vining, Daniel R, Jr & Elwertowski, Thomas C, 1976. "The Relationship between Relative Prices and the General Price Level," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 66(4), pages 699-708, September.
  17. McCallum, John, 1995. "National Borders Matter: Canada-U.S. Regional Trade Patterns," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 615-23, June.
  18. Rogers, John H. & Jenkins, Michael, 1995. "Haircuts or hysteresis? Sources of movements in real exchange rates," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 38(3-4), pages 339-360, May.
  19. Betts, Caroline & Devereux, Michael B., 2000. "Exchange rate dynamics in a model of pricing-to-market," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 215-244, February.
  20. Bomberger, William A & Makinen, Gail E, 1993. "Inflation and Relative Price Variability: Parks' Study Reexamined," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 25(4), pages 854-61, November.
  21. Parsley, David C, 1996. "Inflation and Relative Price Variability in the Short and Long Run: New Evidence from the United States," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 28(3), pages 323-41, August.
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